India: The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), Bengaluru Zonal Office, on Sunday arrested the mastermind behind a racket involved in smuggling endangered species.Officials also seized 1,012 tortoises of different species.
Based on a tip off that endangered species were being smuggled through Chennai air cargo, officials kept a watch on the vehicles heading towards Chennai late on Saturday and early on Sunday.
The team intercepted two vehicles at Attibete toll on the outskirts of the city on Sunday. One of the cars that was searched was found carrying 1,012 live turtles/tortoises of different species, an official release from the DRI stated.
“The seized tortoises, including red eared slider which is one of the 100 most invasive species listed by International Union for Conservation of Nature. In all, there were 852 Indian Star Tortoise, 76 Tricarinate Hill Turtle, 46 Peter (Melanchelys tricarinata Female), 11 red-eared Slider and 27 Indian tent turtle. They were packed in seven bags,” an official said.
Investigations found that the man behind the operation is a pet shop owner in Bengaluru. Officials said his identity is not being revealed as investigation is still underway. During preliminary investigation, the man admitted that he along with some other unknown persons, he used to illegally procure these endangered species from natural habitats located in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka and smuggle them to countries like Hong Kong through Chennal air cargo. This racket has operating for a year now, according to officials.The state forest department took possession of the tortoises
(Source:The New Indian Express)